Saturday, December 20
We were down at the beach by 5:30, enjoying a beautiful sunrise while we waited for our driver to show up.
We watched rain coming, so we moved underneath my friend Naris' outside kitchen to take shelter. Our breakfast of banana bread and hard-boiled eggs was easy to share with Naris while we waited. Sylvester walked by, and when she came back again, she had a tray full of fish that had just been caught by a neighbor at the end of the village. If I hadn't been leaving within a few minutes, I would have been buying some fish, too!
Around 6:15, Belza arrived, and he traded spots with our translation committee chairman, Hiva, to drive us across the Russells for the ordination of the first Lavukal Catholic Priest. A young man home from school, Jim, joined us, too. As we pulled out, Jovan (love his mischievous grin) was paddling in a small canoe right next to us, the kids here are so good at maneuvering around in a little dugout!
We were already running almost an hour later than we intended, and in just a few minutes, we began to get heavy rain - so heavy that Hiva stayed close to the shore instead of cutting across with a more direct route. Olivia, Katherine, and I crawled underneath the hood of the canoe, and eventually Kayla joined us. The guys had to make do with wrapping up in the downpour.
After about an hour, the rain let up enough for Hiva to get his bearings AND for us to see the dolphins that were swimming alongside us! God kept giving Jason and Kayla gifts of His creation throughout their entire stay in the Solomon Islands. He is just so good like that!
We finally pulled soaking wet into Louna Village after two hours in the boat, and we were relieved to find that the festivities weren't scheduled to begin until 10:00. We had plenty of time to meet the other guests there and to visit with the Archbishop and a priest, both from Ireland. They had come in 1966 and 1968 and had so many stories to tell of their time in the Solomon Islands. We also had time to dry out before the service began.
When the celebration finally did start, I was just in awe. The mass began with traditional dancers leading the procession and singing in Lavukaleve. I never get tired of watching our neighbors' culture come alive.
Even though this particular Catholic diocese uses the Ghari language (from the Western tip of Guadalcanal) for church, today the language we heard most was Lavukaleve.
The Lavukal singing and the voices of our Lavukal neighbors mingled with the English spoken in the liturgy, and those mingled with the Pijin of the visitors from outside the Russell Islands. In addition, the Archbishop used a little bit of Ghari in his sermon, and two Filipino sisters sitting next to me were chatting away in their own language, too.
I felt like I was listening in on a tiny slice of heaven with all of those languages floating around! The sun started to come out to heat everything up, and an umbrella mysteriously appeared for Katherine and me to share. After the service finished, we began to walk over to the beautiful shelter where we would eat, and my flower friend, Maria, showed up! I wish I had gotten a picture of her beautiful smile. She is from Louna Village but married a man from Honiara, so she now sells flowers just outside Honiara. She had passed the umbrella up to us during the service to help us stay out of the sun and was coming to say hi and to retrieve her umbrella.
And then we got to the feasting, and I got a tiny taste of heaven again. Every kind of seafood that exists here was paraded for us to enjoy - lobster, multiple types of fish, clamshells, what we know as hotehote and kalimeta (maybe some kind of strombus shell?). Oh. My.
We started home in sunshine, with full bellies, and in plenty of time to make it home before dark. But I think the rain must have been waiting for us at Marulaon, because before we got home, we got wet again.
Kayla and I tried to stay dry under the hood of the canoe, but the rest of the crew just braved getting wet again since we were almost home.
In fact, when we finally arrived, Benjamin, Olivia, and Jason dove out into the warm Pacific water to warm their rain-cooled bodies. What a great way to end our big day!